Cynthia Coffman Trolls Race for Governor

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is almost certainly not running for governor in 2018, but she would really like it if you would pretend that she might. This is very, very lame…

“You know I am at least looking at governor” [Pols emphasis]. This is what Coffman told Denver Post reporter Mark Matthews today in Washington D.C. If you are unaccustomed to the language of politics, please allow us to translate:

I don’t actually plan on running for governor, but please float my name so that I can use these rumors to generate support for my re-election bid for Attorney General. 

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman

We noted back in January that Coffman was trying to gin up interest for a potential bid for governor. From everything we’ve heard, that effort didn’t go anywhere and Coffman has since indicated privately that she will seek re-election as Attorney General. That won’t stop her from continuing to troll the rest of the potential field for 2018, however.

Coffman may not particularly like her current job as AG, but there is no path for her to win a Republican primary for Governor. Coffman is not what you’d call a beloved figure in the Colorado GOP — certainly not enough to elbow her way into a Republican Primary that is already expected to include State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler (in addition to a wealthy self-funder in former legislator Victor Mitchell). It’s also important to note that Coffman’s biggest financial backer in 2014 was the Republican Attorney General’s Association (RAGA), a group that obviously doesn’t care about the Colorado race for Governor.

Now, if Coffman could figure out a way to create an office of “Chief Troll” for Colorado, she’d have to be considered a frontrunner.

“The Price”–Powerful New DSCC Ad Gut-Punches Trumpcare


The Hill reports on a powerful new ad from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee–playing on TV in 2018 Senate race states and with a nationwide digital buy:

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) has launched a new ad targeting the GOP ObamaCare replacement plan.

The 30-second ad, titled “The Price,” looks to highlight the increased costs middle-class families could pay for healthcare under the Republican proposal.

The beginning of the ad shows a couple selling their belongings. At the end of the ad, the couple is shown sitting next to a child in a hospital bed.

“What will the Republican health care bill cost you?” writing at the end of the ad says.

Without a word of spoken dialogue, this is one of the most compelling ads against repeal of the Affordable Care Act we’ve seen in all the years the law has been on the books. Much like the resurgence of popularity for “Obamacare” as it faces repeal under President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress, it’s possible that the country just wasn’t ready to handle this gut-punch of a message until the worst actually became likely.

At the 11th hour, America may finally be ready to hear it.

Hickenlooper: Dems Should “Slow Down” Gorsuch Nomination

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Quotable quotes from Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper today via the Denver Post’s Brian Eason, in which Hickenlooper shows a flash of contempt for President Donald Trump–and the treachery that led to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court that former President Barack Obama tried to fill over a year ago:

“If someone commits an offense against you, generally, if there’s no consequence — if you just walk away and there’s no consequence — if you have another opportunity, you can be pretty much assured that he’ll do that same thing again,” Hickenlooper said during a press conference. “I don’t think I would hold it against Democrats to say, ‘Maybe we should slow this down.’ Because there are real questions about what happened to Merrick Garland, and I think that those actions — just like elections — have consequences.”

But he stopped short of taking a position himself on the nomination, saying he was “honored” that Colorado had someone as talented as Gorsuch nominated to the nation’s highest court…

Hickenlooper also suggested that the ongoing investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia could give Democrats another reason to hold off. [Pols emphasis]

“We’re already beginning to hear people say, ‘Hey, if this is a legitimate cloud about the legitimacy of this president, should he be appointing the next Supreme Court, until we get this resolved?’” Hickenlooper said. “Somehow it was OK to wait 10 and a half months without having a candidate stand for the Supreme Court — maybe we should wait another four or five months and see what this investigation proves.”

Shorter Hick: if you let the bullies win, all you’ve done is ensure the bullying happens again. Oh and by the way, Trump’s presidency is just a headline away from full-blown constitutional crisis, so maybe you don’t have to be so, you know, deferential? In terms of Gorsuch’s nomination, this is a message that seems to be directed at one particular U.S. Senator from Colorado.

Democrats should like this tougher side of Hickenlooper, and ask for more.

Wednesday Open Thread

“History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies.”

–Alexis de Tocqueville

The Get More Smarter Show: March 21, 2017

Today on the Get More Smarter Show: your hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin talk through the latest in Colorado politics, followed by a detailed interview with Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman on the state of the legislature. Welcome back to Ernest, the first-ever repeat guest on the Get More Smarter Show!

To skip directly to Luning’s interview, jump to -26:05 in the video.

Click here to catch up on our past episodes, and thanks for watching.

BREAKING: Ex-Colorado GOP Chair Charged With Voter Fraud

Former Colorado GOP chairman Steve Curtis.

As the Denver Post’s John Frank reports, former Colorado GOP chairman Steve Curtis, now a radio host on 560 KLZ talk radio, has been charged with felony forgery and one misdemeanor count of voter fraud:

Former Colorado Republican party chairman Steve Curtis, 57, has been charged with voter fraud and forgery, prosecutors say.

Curtis, an AM radio talk show host, appeared Tuesday in Weld County District Court, where he was advised that he faces two counts in the case: forgery, a Class 5 felony, and misdemeanor voter fraud.

Weld County District Attorney’s spokesman Tyler Hill confirmed the charges, but said he couldn’t discuss details of the allegations, which were first reported by KDVR-Channel 31.

However a criminal complaint filed Feb. 1 says the forgery charge stems from “intent to defraud” a woman on the 2016 general election mail-in ballot. The complaint says Curtis lives in Aurora.

As Frank reports, Curtis was the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party through 1999–far back enough that the kids won’t remember him, but excepting TABOR mastermind Doug Bruce’s tax evasion conviction related to an electioneering nonprofit he operated, this is the highest-ranking politico we can recall to be charged with a felony election crime.

And it should go without saying, if Colorado Republicans want to be taken seriously on the issue of election fraud, they really need to stop being literally the only people who actually commit election fraud in Colorado.

Seriously, folks.

CNN reports political background of Gorsuch critic but not of his defender

(It’s a two-way street – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

CNN reported this morning that Jennifer Sisk, who complained that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch made disparaging comments about women during a lecture to his law school class, was “a registered Democrat who once worked for former Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado.”

Fair enough.

But the political background of a former Gorsuch law student who defended the SCOTUS nominee was not provided.

CNN quoted former Gorsuch law student, Catherine Holtgrewe, as saying Gorsuch never spoke “disrespectfully to or about anyone” — without identifying Holtgewe as a former Romney staffer and the volunteer coordinator of the failed 2006 gubernatorial campaign of Bob Beauprez. She works for a conservative think tank.

CNN quoted a letter, first reported by NPR, that Sisk wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee, claiming that Gorsuch told her class that “companies must ask females about their family and pregnancy plans to protect the company,” CNN reported.

Sisk writes that she was “distressed by the tenor of his comments” and made her concerns known to the law school’s administration.

Sisk, a registered Democrat who once worked for former Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, confirmed to CNN that she authored the letter.

In discussing Holtgrewe, CNN reported:

Another former student, Catherine Holtgrewe, said she “never heard Judge Gorsuch ever speak disrespectfully to or about anyone.”
“As a former student, I am a witness to the respect that he showed towards his female students and fellow professors at Colorado Law,” she said in a statement. “The supposed remarks he made in his 2016 Legal Ethics class are completely out of character, and I find very hard to believe are accurately relayed.”

Obviously, Holtgrewe’s political operative background is relevant to the story, as is Sisk’s. CNN need not have included Sisk’s political party.

I did not immediately receive a response to a tweet to Ashley Killough, a CNN political producer, whose byline appeared on the piece.

Gorsuch’s Bizarre Unforced Error on Partisan Judges

Seth Masket, political science professor at the University of Denver, calls out U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch for a fairly surprising misstatement during confirmation hearings:

Masket is correct: the states of Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia all hold partisan elections to their state supreme courts. In addition, 20 states hold partisan elections for trial court judges. Several other states have a “hybrid” system of partial partisan elections for the judiciary.

So, what’s the deal with this? We don’t think it rises to the level of perjury, being an apparently innocent misstatement. But Gorsuch is being sold as one of the nation’s greatest legal minds, and there’s just no excuse for him not knowing full well that many parts of America indeed have “Republican judges” and “Democratic judges.”

This is not the minor leagues, folks. We are talking about a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court for a 49-year-old judge. Gorsuch’s platitudes about judicial partisan independence may sound good, but they are factually not correct.

And that doesn’t sit well with us.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 21)

Colorado State University lost its game Monday, so you can stop pretending to care about the NIT. Please settle in as we Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► House Republicans are still working toward a Thursday vote on Trumpcare, and the President himself is on Capitol Hill making threats and demands. As the Washington Post reports, President Trump’s tough talk may not be enough to sway skeptical Republicans:

President Trump went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday morning to sell the House GOP leadership’s plan to overhaul the health-care system as the legislation races toward an expected vote on the House floor by the end of the week. Assuring Republicans that they would gain seats if they passed the bill, the president told Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, to stand up and take some advice.

“I’m gonna come after you, but I know I won’t have to, because I know you’ll vote ‘yes,’ ” Trump said, according to several Republican lawmakers who attended the meeting. “Honestly, a loss is not acceptable, folks.”

But after the meeting, Meadows told reporters that the president had not made the sale, that the call-out was good-natured and that conservative holdouts would continue to press for a tougher bill.

“I’m still a ‘no,’ ” he said. “I’ve had no indication that any of my Freedom Caucus colleagues have switched their votes.”

After meeting with Republicans, Trump predicted “a real winner” following Thursday’s planned vote, though Politico also reports that members of the Freedom Caucus were not swayed by Trump’s appearance. Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) also says that he has not yet decided whether to support Trumpcare.

 

► Denver Judge Neil Gorsuch continues to take tough questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the first part of his confirmation hearing to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Gorsuch was asked repeatedly this morning about how he might rule on cases relating to abortion, as Politico explains:

Gorsuch declined to say whether Roe vs. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion, was correctly decided more than four decades ago.

The comments came in an exchange about legal precedent with Grassley, who appeared eager to stave off Democratic attempts to pin Gorsuch down on controversial issues.

Roe “is a precedent of the United States Supreme Court,” Gorsuch testified.

“I’m not in a position to tell you whether I’d personally like or dislike any precedent. That’s not relevant to my job,” Gorsuch in the discussion with Grassley. “Precedent … deserves our respect. And to come in and think that just because I’m new or the latest thing I’d know better than everybody who comes before me would be an act of hubris.”

When asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) whether he viewed Roe as a “super precedent,” Gorsuch responded: “It has been reaffirmed many times, I can say that.”

Last weekend, the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University confidently proclaimed that Gorsuch would help to overturn Roe v. Wade. These are the same geniuses that think you should boycott the new Beauty and the Beast movie.

 

► Senate Republican leaders in the Colorado legislature killed a bipartisan measure intended to make adjustments to TABOR in order to free more money for education and infrastructure needs. Republican leadership instead offered up its own solution for dealing with Colorado’s budget woes…nah, just kidding.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Nyet, Comrade: Senate GOP Leadership Kills GOP TABOR Fix

Sen. Larry Crowder.

As the AP’s James Anderson reports:

A Senate committee led by Republicans who oppose tampering with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights on Monday defeated a measure to ask Colorado voters if they want to keep more tax revenue for roads, education and health care.

GOP Rep. Dan Thurlow of Grand Junction and Sen. Larry Crowder of Alamosa wanted to ask voters to change the way limits on state revenue are calculated under TABOR, the constitutional amendment adopted in 1992.

But the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee voted 3-2 along party lines to reject the bill.

Colorado Senate GOP leadership made no attempt to conceal their opposition to House Bill 1187, which would have changed the revenue limit under the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights from being indexed against inflation and population growth to personal income growth:

Peter Marcus of the Colorado Springs Gazette adds:

What was unique about House Bill 1187 was that the bill was sponsored by two Republicans: Rep. Dan Thurlow of Grand Junction and Sen. Larry Crowder of Alamosa. It picked up one additional Republican vote in the House when Rep. Lois Landgraf, R-Fountain, supported it.

The bill had the support of two other Republicans in committee – Reps. Polly Lawrence of Littleton and Phil Covarrubias of Brighton – but they pulled their support when the bill was up for a final vote in the Democratic-controlled House.

Right-leaning advocacy groups at the capitol led by the Independence Institute reportedly put intense pressure on the few “backsliding” Republicans willing to support asking the voters for this fix–which is supposed to be consistent with the spirit of TABOR, but in practice TABOR’s so-called defenders in the legislature reliably oppose.

This outcome is not unexpected of course, and in light of the transportation deal leadership in both chambers is also struggling to get through the Republican gauntlet, it’s a reasonable question whether the timing was right for this. Either way, certainly this has been one of the most visible bipartisan pushes to relax TABOR’s chokehold on state revenue since 2005’s Referendum C. And the case made by Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Larry Crowder was compelling even while it was ignored by the Senate “kill committee.”

“We have to fix the process in order to make logical decisions on the budget,” Thurlow said recently. “If they want us to prioritize, they have to take away the restrictions.”

Crowder’s rural southern Colorado district has suffered because of budget-balancing tactics that include reducing fees paid by hospitals to secure matching federal funds. Those fees are counted as state revenue under TABOR, and when they are cut to balance the budget, rural hospitals get less.

“If you look at it realistically, what are we doing here if we can’t govern?” Crowder said. “There is no holy grail in government. Period. Including TABOR.” [Pols emphasis]

A commendable effort that deserves better than it got yesterday from the Senate State Affairs committee. Here’s to this small crack in the highest wall in Colorado politics growing bigger next year.

Colorado Christian U: Gorsuch Our Kind of Hater

Neil Gorsuch.

A fundraising email from Jeff Hunt, vice president of Colorado Christian University, extolls Judge Neil Gorsuch’s “conservative values”–and makes predictions about Gorsuch’s values on the U.S. Supreme Court that Gorsuch probably won’t want to validate during confirmation hearings:

Judge Gorsuch has proven he’s pro-life, pro-family, and pro-religious liberty, which is exactly why the radical Left is rallying against him.

His rulings are very promising from a conservative perspective, which is why it’s critical we rush to his aid immediately and ensure he’s confirmed…

As a native of Colorado and a devoted follower of Christ, we couldn’t be more excited about what Judge Gorsuch will do to help overturn Roe v. Wade, uphold traditional marriage, and protect our religious freedom. [Pols emphasis]

When our past president, Bill Armstrong, was serving in the U.S. Senate, a young Neil Gorsuch even interned for him.

The late Senator Bill Armstrong helped mentor this brilliant conservative legal mind, and now he has the chance to ascend to the nation’s highest court where he will defend our values for decades to come.

We wouldn’t say that any of this is a surprise, although traditionally Supreme Court nominees don’t give specific answers on how they might rule on specific cases. What this message does do, however, is give some perspective on the origins of Gorsuch’s political views.

And if CCU is to be believed, that would be Gorsuch’s anti-choice, anti-gay, pro-bigotry political views (no word on how Gorsuch feels about the new Beauty and the Beast movie).

Bennet Introduces Gorsuch With Praise For Merrick Garland

TUESDAY UPDATE: Sen. Michael Bennet’s introduction of Neil Gorsuch appears to impressed somebody notable:

—–

Word spread late last week that Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet would join GOP Sen. Cory Gardner in introducing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch of Colorado to the Senate Judiciary Committee today. This afternoon that took place–with Gardner giving his widely-expected glowing endorsement of Gorsuch, and as for Bennet…well?

 

In short, Bennet warmly praises Gorsuch, saying he “exemplifies some of the finest qualities of Colorado.” That and several other statements by Bennet praising Gorsuch in terms that seem to gloss over very serious policy differences between these two men will be enough to make Colorado Democrats quite nervous.

Niceties aside, Bennet did speak out strongly against the treatment of Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee who was denied a hearing by Republicans for almost a year. Bennet makes it clear that he considers “Judge Gorsuch a nominee to fill the Garland seat on the Supreme Court.” With that said, Bennet says that “two wrongs don’t make a right,” and that Gorsuch should receive a fair hearing.

Sen. Bennet didn’t give any definitive indication on how he intends to vote on Gorsuch, and it’s a longstanding tradition for a nominee’s home-state Senators to introduce them. But the first blush of reactions we’ve heard from Democrats are lukewarm at best. Bennet’s vote for or against Gorsuch represents what may be the greatest test of his values since his appointment in 2009, and it will be remembered.

Stay tuned, this drama is just warming up.

A Construction-Defects Compromise For Reals?

As the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning reports, hopes are running high at the state capitol today that a new compromise bill with bipartisan sponsorship on the perennially vexatious issue of addressing defects in multifamily residential construction might finally break a years-long logjam:

A bipartisan group of legislators introduced a compromise bill late Friday aimed at encouraging developers to build condominium projects while preserving the right of homeowners to have their day in court.

The legislation arrives at the end of a week that saw a Democratic-sponsored bill and a Republican-sponsored bill covering much of the same territory both run aground, stoking outrage and frustration that the Legislature might be unable to resolve a problem that has vexed lawmakers for years.

House Bill 1279 incorporates provisions in common between the two ill-fated bills, and its sponsors say they’ve removed offending elements that led Senate Republicans to sink Senate Bill 157 in committee and compelled House leadership to deliver Senate Bill 156 to the chamber’s “kill committee.”

But more importantly, the new bill’s sponsors say it will accomplish enough to restore confidence in the condo market for builders while maintaining a fair process for homeowners.

The word we’re hearing from homeowner advocates is positive about this new compromise bill–creating a process for filing suit against a builder for defects that requires more buy-in than simply the HOA board, without taking away the right to sue completely as a moribund bill from Senate Republicans would have done. This issue is sensitive, or at least should be sensitive for Republicans, since siding categorically with big builders over middle-class families is politically not a wonderful place to camp out. Likewise Democrats have to balance the arguments in favor of affordable housing with rights homeowners should not have to sign away just to buy a condo.

If this bill gets through, it could mark resolution on an issue that has taken up much more time and drama in the state legislature than it probably ever deserved. Whether you believe that the ability to sue developers for defects in construction is hurting housing affordability in Colorado or not, we think everybody’s ready to move on.

Hopefully, this is a compromise that gives all stakeholders enough to do that.

Get More Smarter on Monday (March 20)

Welcome, Springtime! Please settle in as we Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Senate hearings to approve Denver Judge Neil Gorsuch as the next Supreme Court Justice began on Monday. As the Washington Post reports:

Monday brings their newest opportunity since the confirmation hearings of Trump’s Cabinet to take a stand against a young administration that has horrified liberal Americans with efforts to strip away provisions of the Affordable Care Act, impose an entry ban on some immigrants and deeply cut federal agencies.

The left also remains angry about a Supreme Court seat that has been vacant since Scalia died 13 months ago because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) decided to block a hearing for President Barack Obama’s selection for the seat, Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit…

…Gorsuch “is a bit of a puzzle,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an interview last week. “We’re going to try to put those pieces together so that the puzzle is complete and we have an understanding of what kind of a fifth vote will be going on the court.”

As per Senate tradition, Gorsuch was introduced this morning in the Senate Judiciary Committee by home-state Senators Michael Bennet (D-Denver) and Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). The Denver Post has more on the key role that Sen. Bennet will play in the Gorsuch confirmation hearings.

 

► The FBI confirmed today that it is investigating allegations that Russia interfered with the 2016 U.S. elections in order to help Donald Trump make it into the White House. As the New York Times reports, FBI Director James Comey is also making it clear that there is absolutely no evidence to support Trump’s claims that his campaign was “wiretapped” under order from President Obama:

Mr. Comey told the House Intelligence Committee, “We have no information to support” President Trump’s assertion on Twitter that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.

“We have no information to support those tweets,” Mr. Comey said, repeating moments later, “All I can tell you is that we have no information that supports them.”

The N.S.A. chief, Admiral Rogers, weighed in as well, saying that he had no knowledge of anyone asking the British or any other ally to wiretap Mr. Trump. That seemed to refute another claim made by the White House.

“I’ve seen nothing on the N.S.A. side that we engaged in such activity, nor that anyone engaged in such activity,” Admiral Rogers said.

 

► Colorado’s economy is doing very well…which means state lawmakers are going to have to make difficult budget cuts. Yay, TABOR!

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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